Holyoke Hosts 61st Annual Colleen Pageant


Holyoke High’s own Grace Hamel, court member.

If you are local to Holyoke and familiar with the Irish culture of the city, you probably know that to be the Grand Colleen of the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade is a big deal. To be a colleen, you must be a live in Holyoke or South Hadley and be a moral representation of a young Irish woman.

Holyoke senior Natalie Mayko.
Holyoke senior Natalie Mayko.

On Saturday, January 3, the annual pageant was held in the Sears Auditorium at Holyoke High School, where the contestants walked the stage as their descriptions were read to the judges and audience. The women (ages 17-22), escorted by servicemen, took the stage in formal dresses as the announcer read off the characteristics and details that the individual had chosen which they believe represents themselves the best.

This year, there were opening performances by the Holyoke Caledonian Piper Band, the Holyoke High School Madrigal Choir (who sang both the United States and Irish National Anthems), the Champion Irish Step Dancers, and then an introduction from this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade President, Jacki Reardon.

The twenty-two contestants then were called up one by one by Kathleen Anderson, who read the girls qualifications to the audience as the lovely ladies graced the stage. There were three of Holyoke High’s own seniors that competed; Grace Hamel, Natalie Mayko, and Herald staffer Nora Taupier.

The 2015 Colleen Court consists of: Grace Hamel, Hannah Nelson, Casey O’ Connor, Shannon Engelson, and Allyson Craven. The 2015 Miss Congeniality award was given to court member Casey O’ Connor.  The Grand Colleen will be chosen and presented with the 2015 title in time to get prepared for their big debut on the Colleen float in Holyoke’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade this year. The winner will also get various prizes such as a trip to Ireland for two and additional gifts. No matter who is chosen for the Grand Colleen this year, all the members of the 2015 court are elegant women who shows poise, intelligence, and are charitable in their community and represent Holyoke’s Irish heritage greatly.